Alternative to Daylily see photo

TomNorthJerseySeptember 8, 2012

I hope I don't offend anyone but I figured this group might be the best to ask.

I know that people have daylilies and cats without issues but the effect they can have worries me and I'm looking for an alternative that can do what I want.

In the photo below on the right of the red marking there is a yellow day lily planted underneath a japanese barberry.

Do you think I can get that look with a couple of irises or is the foliage too stiff? Any other recommendations?

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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

There is mixed reports on this.

HOWEVER, my first hand experience is that there is no ill effects on cats nibbling on daylilies. They also could give two hoots about most mature foilage, prefering younger and tender grass types.

I wouldnt hesitate growing daylilies becuase you own cats, Ive had the two together for 11 years and so hasnt millions of other people. There is no confirmation that they are or not . I think some of the confusion is that Daylilies are not in the Lillium family but in the Hemerocallis family.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 6:55AM
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sunny_daze_gardener(5 MI)

Hi, I have been growing daylilies with cats for years. No problems here. Year before last, my Missy girl ate most of my weeks old seedlings that were growing in front of the slider. She threw them up in the other room and she is fine (and so are the plants). As far as growing them out in the yard, the cats don't bother with them.
Iris's bloom earlier than most daylilies and the foliage is by far heavier, not the same in my opinion.

Nancy VB

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 7:47AM
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What convinced me to look for something else was the last paragraph by Dr. Wiener a Master Gardener who works for the ASPCA's poison control center on this page. I also read that just ingesting the pollen as they clean themselves can cause problems.

I know a lot of people have daylilies and cats without issue. Maybe it's just certain varieties, maybe it's with certain cats but I would really rather be safe than sorry considering ingestion is claimed to lead to renal failure and not just an upset stomach.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:39AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I can't see the photo. Can you use agapanthus where you live? They have fountain foliage like daylilies.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 12:36AM
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Cats like to lay on the foliage...many neighbor cats are drawn to my flower beds, but none of them or my three show any ill effects from them.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 8:35PM
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Julia NY(6)

I'm confused....What photo?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 7:12AM
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True lilies will cause real problems, but not daylilies. Not all "experts" are really experts ... but you can believe what you would like.

If your cats are looking for something green to eat, plant them some grass.

I'll keep growing my daylilies and true lilies and not worry about my cats eating them and getting sick.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 1:07PM
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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

My favorite line ever.. not every "expert" is a expert!

HA.. your are 100% right.

WE all make mistakes, but the "experts" have to claim they never do I guess.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 4:31PM
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juliany I thought I posted a photo. Here it is... The plant I'm refering to is the yellow flowering plant with the spiky foliage under the japanese barberry on the right. I thought i was told it was a siberian iris but others have indicated it looks more like a daylily.


"Not all "experts" are really experts ... but you can believe what you would like."

I didn't come here looking to debate the topic or to dissuade others from planting daylilies but this comment really irked me.

You're insinuating that this person that works at the ASPCA's poison control center who is not only a Master Gardner but is also referred to with the title "Dr." who has worked with pet owners and identified Stella D'oro daylilies as the likely cause of renal toxicity in their cats may not have the experience to provide authoritative information. As well as the researchers (phd's and grad students) who have isolated the sugar in the plant that is toxic to cats and cows might not have credentials up to your standards?

Because a few semi-anonymous people who haven't revealed their credentials say they're not toxic to cats that should be enough?

Just because something is toxic does not mean that every pet/person exposed to it is going to suffer ill effects but it does increase the risk. I'm not claiming that every week people have to spend time shoveling the cat carcasses out of their garden beds. Even if it's a fairly small risk, renal toxicity is serious and leads to death. Maybe there's a clearer understanding of the toxicity of daylilies that comes out in the future but for now I prefer to minimize that risk.

If you have daylilies and cats and haven't had any problems that's great. I don't have any daylilies planted and don't know if it's going to cause problems and I don't want to find out.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 1:49PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Just out of curiosity are you concerned about the cats you own (or better yet - the cats that own you) eating daylily foliage?......Maryl

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 3:53PM
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My only concern is that I do not introduce anything that has a potential to dramatically decrease the quality of life or kill them or any other pets that happen by.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 4:14PM
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Julia NY(6)

Yes, I do believe it is a daylily from what I can see.

I've not heard of anyone having issues with their outdoor pets being sick from daylilies and this has been discussed several times. What they could get sick from, and I'm no expert, is any chemical(s) sprayed on the plants or nearby water sources which they could ingest. Many chemicals clearly state warnings on the bottles. Just my thoughts.

BTW, I like your garden with the bricks in a circle around it. Nice sitting area. Thanks for posting the picture.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 6:05PM
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Maryl zone 7a

I seriously doubt that one or two daylilies such as shown in your photo will (quote) "dramatically decrease the quality of life"...However as a past and present owner of many cats, I would suggest that if you let your cats (presuming you have one or two) run free, that the odds of being eaten by a predator, bitten by a snake or killed by a car are higher then the occasional ingestion of a few bites off a daylily leaf. However, this is (or used to be) a free country, and if you have any doubts about daylily foliage then feel free to eliminate daylilies from your own personal planting area...Maryl

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 7:01PM
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That's not my garden. I was using it as inspiration and wanted to copy a few concepts. I found it at His site had a lot of information that helped me. I emailed him about the photo but it was one of his friend's work not his. He did identify one of the spiky foliage as Siberian Iris. I thought he meant the one under the japanese burberry but maybe he meant the more upright spikey one in the middle a little towards the back left? Does that look like a siberian iris?

If it turns out the iris foliage doesn't look right I was thinking maybe planting some ornamental grass around it. I want some long, soft grassy foliage on the bottom to contrast the texture of the shrub but the yellow bloom also looks good against the red background up top. Do you think that might work?


I don't have any daylilies. Someone at the APSCA's poison control center claims they have identified a sugar in daylilies that is a renal toxin in cats and cows which. Renal toxicity and renal failure are pretty serious. If you were in my shoes would you put more weight to the information put out by the ASPCA who have investigated the issue or a bunch of people on a forum, who you don't really know, who claim they didn't have any problems?

Even if the percent of something bad actually happening is very small the consequences are quite harsh. It just doesn't seem worth the risk over a plant if I can find something something that gets the look I'm after without the risk.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 7:51PM
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Tom, Just curious, but why did you ask us?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 7:43PM
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Because there's no "Daylily Alternatives" forum :)

I figured those of you who post here have other plants in your gardens as well as familiarity with more plants than me. Since you all would be well acquainted with the characteristics of daylilies it seemed like the best place to ask.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:14PM
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Brittie - La Porte, TX 9a

Would Agapanthus work? I don't know if that's toxic or not, but the foliage isn't toooo different. Definitely more similar than iris foliage.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:20PM
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The poisonous plants are Oriental & Asiatic Lilies. Daylilies are perfectly edible for cats & all us mammals.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 11:41AM
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Have you checked with the Perennial forum or the Cottage Garden forum? They might be able to help you with alternate plants.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 6:46PM
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If you wanted to avoid all toxic plants you should probably plant an entirely concrete or plastic garden, because many many wild and garden plants have toxic leaves and roots to protect them against being eaten by bugs and other animals, for example, tomatoes, and many others. Most of these have leaves that taste awful and might induce vomiting. Animals quickly learn to avoid them (which is the point) unless absolutely starving. They would only be deadly if you ate enormous quantities of them or make a decoction by boiling their roots.

Chances are, whatever might be recommended as a substitute for daylilies would be at least mildly toxic as well. (However, there are a few plants that really are deadly poisonous -- like the berries of deadly nightshade, for example, or rhubarb (the leaves not the edible stems. I would never eat any plant unless I was absolutely sure it was safe.)

Cats are carnivores, they do not eat plants, though they may sometimes nIibble on grass. Scientists have discovered that cats don't have taste buds to taste sweet flavors. I would say go ahead and grow dayliles, but you need to do whatever feels right and comfortable for you.

Daylilies, incidentally, are grown as edibles in Asia -- the flowers not the leaves,

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 9:30PM
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Hi Tom - While iris doesn't have the arching foliage, yellow iris would be a nice contrast of color with the color of the barberry.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:04AM
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